SEREMBAN: After its failure to win any parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan at last year’s 15th general election (GE15), questions abound as to whether Perikatan Nasional will fare better at the coming state election scheduled for Aug 12.
“PAS does not have strong grassroots support in Negeri Sembilan,” Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Jamaie Hamil told FMT, also citing the results of the 2018 state election where the party failed to win any seats.
He said Bersatu did just as badly, despite contesting under the Pakatan Harapan banner and riding on anti-Barisan Nasional (BN) sentiments.
In 2018, PH components DAP, PKR and Amanah won 20 out of the 36 state seats on offer, with BN winning the remaining 16.
With PH and BN joining forces this time around, PAS and Bersatu may find it even harder to make an impact in Negeri Sembilan, he said.
However, Bridget Welsh, honorary research associate at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, said things may be different this time around.
“PN is putting Bersatu first and focusing on Malay areas. They are tapping into economic dissatisfaction and making the campaign a federal referendum (against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration),” Welsh told FMT.
She also said there was uncertainty over the transferability of votes between BN and PH.
For their part, BN and PH are not taking the battle lightly, and have ensured the presence of “big guns” as candidates.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan and DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook, both federal ministers, have been nominated to run for seats in Rantau and Chennah, respectively.
The unity alliance also appears to have resolved the thorny issue of who will be named its menteri besar candidate.
On Monday, PH president Anwar Ibrahim said his coalition was ready to nominate caretaker menteri besar Aminuddin Harun for the post following discussions with BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
However, state Umno chief Jalaluddin Alias suggested that a final decision has not been made.
“It depends on the situation after the election. This is something the heads of both parties need to discuss after the election,” he told FMT.
Jalaluddin said he was not keen to comment on Aminuddin’s nomination as the priority now was to strengthen support for the unity coalition.
PN, however, will not be dwelling on the menteri besar issue.
Instead, its Negeri Sembilan secretary Nazree Yunus insisted that unhappiness over national issues, including the state of the economy and the “ineffective” PH-BN combination at the federal level, was what would work in their favour.
“I think there is also the issue of BN and PH voters not being able to accept the other party. So, I see a chance for us to win in Negeri Sembilan.”